PhD Exit Seminar: Lessons learnt from an Intimate Partner Violence and substance misuse intervention in Sri Lankan pre-schools

Sri Lanka

The foundation of this PhD was a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) we developed and implemented in Sri Lanka that addressed Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and substance misuse in vulnerable communities. Evidence from western countries shows that interventions to address these issues that are developed with, delivered and supported by, local communities have a greater likelihood of being successful. However, little evidence exists to inform the implementation of such programs in developing countries.

I found that IPV was present in the community, as was drug and alcohol misuse, and that while government services were available, use of those services was low. A substantial finding was that engaging men in community-based programs was problematic in our target population, mostly due to their availability because of conflicts with casual employment opportunities.

This research provides evidence-based recommendations to increase and sustain community engagement in delivering programs that improve wellbeing for young families. It identifies sensitivities in developing and delivering programs with such communities and will have implications for future field work and research.


Polly WallcePolly Wallace is a PhD candidate at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in the Humanitarian Research Program. She is interested in humanitarian work in developing countries and outbreak preparedness and response in emergencies. Prior to commencing her PhD Polly worked in developing countries as an epidemiologist/ International Health Regulations officer with WHO (including 2 years in Liberia as part of the Ebola outbreak response). She contributed to Australia’s COVID-19 response as an epidemiologist based at the Australian Department of Health, with Aspen Medical’s Advisory team, and with WHO. Her many years working with national and international emergency preparedness and response, and her Masters in Applied Epidemiology (ANU), provide the foundation for her PhD interest.